How to reset Windows Update on Windows 10 to fix downloads and installs issues

Windows Update is an essential component on every major release of Windows. It allows the operating system download and install the latest updates with bug fixes, security patches, and drivers. Also, on Windows 10, it’s also the mechanism to obtain new features and new Insider preview builds for testers.

However, there will be those times when your PC won’t be able to download or install new updates, because of a specific error messages, Windows Update not being able to connect to the Microsoft servers, and a number of other issues.

Usually, users come across this type of problems when the Windows Update agent related services stop running, there is a problem with the update cache, or required components are corrupted. In these situations, you can reset the Windows Update on Windows 10 to fix most problems.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to reset the Windows Update components using the “Windows Update Troubleshooter” utility and the instructions to use Command Prompt to manually fix Windows Update and get security patches, drivers, and features downloading again on your desktop, laptop, or tablet. However, before using the Command Prompt option, make sure to use the instructions to install the most recent update manually, Service Stack Update (SSU), and repairing system files first. 

How to reset Windows Update using Troubleshooter tool

Microsoft provides the “Windows Update Troubleshooter” utility that can help automate the process to reset the Windows Update components.

  1. Click to download and run the Windows Update Troubleshooter from Microsoft.

  2. Select Windows Update and click Next.

  3. If prompted, click the Try troubleshooting as an administrator option. Re-select your option and click Next again.

  4. Let the troubleshooter fix the problem and click Close.

  5. Reopen the utility, but this time select Windows Networking Diagnostics, which should resolve any networking issues that prevent updates from downloading on your PC.

  6. Let the troubleshooter fix the Windows Update problem and click Close.

  7. Restart your computer to complete the process.

Once your PC restarts try to update Windows 10 one more time and now it should work as expected.

How to fix Windows Update installing latest update manually

Sometimes you can fix problems with Windows Update by installing the latest Windows 10 update available manually. In order to do this, follow these steps:

  1. Head over to the Windows 10 update history website.

  2. In the left pane, browse the latest update for your version of Windows 10 and note the KB number of the update.

    Quick Tip: You can check your current version on Settings > System > About, and under Windows Specifications, see the version information.
  3. Head over to the Microsoft Update Catalog website.

  4. Search for the KB number of the update.

  5. Download the update for version of Windows 10 that you’re running (32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64)).

  6. Double-click the file to install the update.

  7. Restart your computer.

Once you’ve completed the steps, the device should have the latest update installed. The update should have also fixed the problem with Windows Update. You can check clicking the Check for updates button in the Windows Update settings page.

How to fix Windows Update installing latest Servicing Stack Update (SSU)

If updates are still not downloading, you need to make sure your computer has the most Servicing Stack Update installed using these steps:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on System.

  3. Click on About.

  4. Under “System type,” check whether you’re running the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 10.

    Windows 10 About settings page displaying version

  5. Head over to the Microsoft Update Catalog website.

  6. Download the most recent Servicing Stack Update which is described as KB4090914 for version you’re running (32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64)).

  7. Double-click the file to install the update.

  8. Restart your computer.

After restarting your device, you should now be able to download and install the update using the Settings app.

How to fix Windows Update repairing corrupted system files

Windows Update can stop working for a number of reasons, including if one or multiple system files part of the update feature are corrupted. You can fix file corruption to repair Windows Update using these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select Run as administrator.

  3. Type the following DISM command to repair corrupted system files and press Enter:

    dism.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth
  4. Type the following SFC command to repair system files and press Enter:

    sfc /scannow

After completing the steps, Windows Update should have been repaired, and you can check for updates again to verify.

How to reset Windows Update using Command Prompt

If nothing seems to solve the problem, you can try to reset the Windows Update components on Windows 10 manually using the Command Prompt.

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select Run as administrator.

  3. Stop the Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS), Windows Update service, and Cryptographic service. Type the following commands and make sure to press Enter on each line:

    net stop bits
    net stop wuauserv
    net stop appidsvc
    net stop cryptsvc
    Quick Tip: You may need to run the command more than ones until you see the message that the service has stopped successfully.

  4. Type the following command to delete all the qmgr*.dat files created by BITS from your PC. and press Enter:

    Del "%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Application Data\Microsoft\Network\Downloader\*.*"
  5. Type Y to confirm the deletion.

  6. Type the following commands to clear the Windows Update cache to allow Windows 10 re-download the updates, instead of using the files already downloaded on your system that might be damaged and press Enter on each line:

    rmdir %systemroot%\SoftwareDistribution /S /Q
    rmdir %systemroot%\system32\catroot2 /S /Q
    Quick Tip: We’re using the remove directory rmdir command with the /S switch to delete the specified directory and all subdirectories within the main folder, and the /Q switch is used to delete directories quietly without confirmation. If you get the message “The process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process.”, then repeat step 1 and try again, as one of the services might have restarted unexpectedly.
  7. Reset the BITS and Windows Update services to their default security descriptor. Type the following commands and make sure to press Enter on each line:

  8. Move to the System32 folder using the following command and press Enter:

    cd /d %windir%\system32
  9. In order to get the Windows Update agent working properly again, you need to register all the corresponding BITS and Windows Update DLL files on the Registry. Make sure to type the following commands correctly and make sure to press Enter on each line:

    regsvr32.exe /s atl.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s urlmon.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s mshtml.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s shdocvw.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s browseui.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s jscript.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s vbscript.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s scrrun.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s msxml.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s msxml3.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s msxml6.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s actxprxy.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s softpub.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s wintrust.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s dssenh.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s rsaenh.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s gpkcsp.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s sccbase.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s slbcsp.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s cryptdlg.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s oleaut32.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s ole32.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s shell32.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s initpki.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s wuapi.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s wuaueng.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s wuaueng1.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s wucltui.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s wups.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s wups2.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s wuweb.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s qmgr.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s qmgrprxy.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s wucltux.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s muweb.dll
    regsvr32.exe /s wuwebv.dll
    Note: regsvr32 is a command-line tool that will help you to register .DLL files as command components in the registry, and we’re using the /S switch to specify the tool to run the command silently without prompting additional messages.
  10. Reset the network configurations that might be part of the problem (but do not restart your computer just yet). Type the following commands and make sure to press Enter on each line:

    netsh winsock reset
    netsh winsock reset proxy

  11. Restart the BITS, Windows Update, and Cryptographic services using the following commands and make sure to press Enter on each line:

    net start bits
    net start wuauserv
    net start appidsvc
    net start cryptsvc
  12. Restart your computer.

Once you have successfully completed the process Windows Update should have reset and it should be working again on your Windows 10 device.

You can also use the above instructions to fix the problem when Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, Surface Book, or any other Surface can’t seem to download a new firmware update.

Update May 29, 2018: This guide has been updated to reflect to work with the latest version of Windows 10. (Originally published on February 2016, updated on May 2018.)